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Siblings Choose New Sports

By Marlee Melendy, Crimson Staff Writer

Just a year ago, senior Jordan Diekema was finishing up his third year on the swim team and his younger sister, sophomore Courtney Diekema, was completing her rookie season on the women’s soccer squad.

But how things have changed in the past year.

Now, Jordan has taken up club cycling, and his sister has moved from Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium to the Charles River.

It wasn’t until Courtney suffered a foot injury towards the end of the spring season that the thought of not playing soccer ever crossed her mind.

“I had planned on playing soccer through all four years until last spring,” Courtney said. “But now I have a chronic foot problem, a broken bone in my foot, and soccer isn’t really conducive to that.”

Last summer, with encouragement from her mother, Courtney took a crash course in rowing and learned the basics of crew. She then began emailing coaches, who expressed interest, and she walked onto Radcliffe heavyweight crew in the fall.

For Jordan, the decision to join cycling came even later. He had been out for all of the 2009-2010 swim season with health problems and was unsure whether he would continue swimming until last September.

“I just needed something different,” Jordan said. “Coming up after a season of inactivity was kind of brutal, so it was time to do something that I was just going to have fun with. I had been riding for years, but I’d never raced before until the fall. It was a new experience but it’s been going really well.”

Despite being faced with an unexpected transition, the Diekemas have been able to make the shift to a new sport quickly and smoothly. This is especially true with Jordan’s move from a varsity team to a club team, as the former requires much more time than the latter.

“Because cycling’s a club sport there’s a lot less organization and a lot less of what they can require of you,” Jordan said. “It’s more self-motivated, more on my clock, and it’s nice to be in a little bit more control.”

But the more free time and fewer required practices do not mean that club cycling is easier than varsity swimming.

“At the same time, it’s harder to motivate yourself and get up out of bed because you don’t have to do it necessarily,” Jordan added.

For Courtney, the transition has been more of the opposite.

“There is definitely a lot more time commitment with crew than with soccer,” she said.

But for her, it is time well spent, evident from her win in this weekend’s race at the Beanpot regatta and her invitation to row this summer with a U-23 Pre-Elite camp.

Jordan has had success in his new sport as well, as he is currently preparing for nationals while pursuing the opportunity to race for a U-23 triathlon development team once he is out of college.

But looking at the rest of the Diekema family, it’s no wonder where Courtney and Jordan get their athleticism.

The siblings’ father, Jeff Diekema, is a member of the Central Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame and coached the Wellesley swim team for a year. Their siblings’ mother coached a high school team, and their older sister, Megan, was a swimmer at Calvin College.

“Swimming was inevitable for us,” Jordan said.

Even Courtney swam until the end of her freshman year of high school.

“The coach told me I’d have to quit soccer if I wanted to keep swimming,” Courtney said. “So I quit swimming to play soccer.”

“He told me the same thing, but I actually listened to him,” Jordan added.

At Harvard, sports continue to be a huge part of Courtney and Jordan’s life, just as they were while the two were living at home in Michigan.

All of Jordan’s roommates joined the swim team freshmen year, and Courtney lives and remains close with her friends from the soccer team.

“When you’re on a team you spend all that time with your teammates so you don’t necessarily get out that group very often,” Jordan said. “It’s nice now to be on the cycling team because I have a different group I can associate with while still having my group from the swim team.”

“I feel like if I ever needed anything, there’s definitely someone on my team who is willing and can help,” Courtney added. “And so now I have double resources—soccer and crew—which means a lot.”

—Staff writer Marlee Melendy can be reached at melendy@college.harvard.edu.

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